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Obesity May Cause Asthma By Altering The Immune System

"We have discovered an inflammatory pathway to asthma that previously had not been recognized," says Umetsu "This pathway may be resistant to standard asthma medications such as corticosteroids."

In addition, when IL-1β production was blocked with the drug anakinra (Kineret, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum), used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the obese mice did not develop asthma.

Although the researchers were unable to study human patients directly, they did examine lung fluid from 10 patients with lung disease who underwent bronchoalveolar lavage, a diagnostic test. Those with severe asthma had increased numbers of ILC3 cells producing IL-17 as compared with those with mild asthma or no asthma—circumstantial evidence suggesting that the mouse model may mirror what occurs in obese people who develop asthma.

"Obese people have been noted to have elevated systemic levels of IL-17 and IL-1β, particularly those who have non-allergic asthma," notes Umetsu.

The National Institutes of Health and the D. and D. Bunning Food Allergy Project funded the study.

Note: After the study concluded, Umetsu accepted the position of principal medical director at Genentech, where he now works. He is no longer affiliated with Boston Children's Hospital.

Boston Children's Hospital is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 members of the Institute of Medicine and 14 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Boston Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children's today is a 395-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Boston Children's is also the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about research and clinical innovation at Boston Children's, visit: http://vectorblog.org .

CONTACT: Meghan WeberBoston Children's Hospital617-919-3110 meghan.weber@childrens.harvard.edu

SOURCE Boston Children's Hospital

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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